The Media's Failure this Hurricane Season
Hurricane Harvey, as the first major hurricane to hit the United States in over a decade, has left Houston and surrounding areas of Texas and Louisiana devastated. With 30,000 displaced and more than 60 dead, Harvey has led to absolute tragedy for far too many of our fellow Americans. Even for those that were lucky enough to remain safe, there will be a long road of recovery. Estimates place the billions worth of damage caused by Harvey to possibly rise into the triple digits, making it at least the second most destructive hurricane in United States history, after Katrina .
The effects of this natural disaster have me more sober than a minister on Sunday. Now, Hurricane Irma is en route to my beloved Miami, with so many of those close to me directly in its path and myself thousands of miles away, unable to help in case the worst were to occur. However, I remembered the words of a minister even those not of the Presbyterian faith may know well, Mr. Rogers. In one interview Mr. Rogers reminds us that in the event of catastrophe, always to look for the helpers. So, look I did. As it turns out, people have been volunteering en masse to help those affected by Harvey. The beer brewing giant, Anheuser-Busch, one of the icons of my home city, St. Louis, stopped brewing Budweiser to instead work on delivering more than 155,000 cans of emergency drinking water to the Gulf. The National Guard has prepared to mobilize up to 30,000 troops to aid Harvey victims, along with numerous other members of the military. These are Americans proud to be helping their fellow citizens in their time of need. To date, there have been more than 13,000 rescues in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But, for some, these stories just don’t fit the narrative.
Trying to capitalize on the crisis, some media outlets, have decided to tell a different story. Rather than tell a tale of hope, let alone pitching in to help, CNN made an attempt to boost their ratings off of the suffering of those who may have lost everything they had. Rightfully, they received quite the tongue-lashing. Slate wrote an article disparaging those in the midst of rescue efforts, saying their display of heroism “Doesn’t showcase America at its best.” Indeed, this example of the American people’s moral character is only “…momentarily liberated from its sheath of rust." In a particularly insulting display of bad taste, a Politico cartoonist used Harvey as an opportunity to attack even the victims of the hurricane, although the cartoonist in question would later “elaborate” he was only using tragedy to attack certain groups of Americans. Indeed, there was even a trend on Twitter wishing death and destruction upon Texans simply for their race or political beliefs.
Americans stand together. Americans like the Cajun Navy, remembering the aid rendered unto them by Texans during Katrina and the floods of 2016, lunged at the opportunity to help their Texan brothers and sisters. Despite some groups’ attempts to paint a picture of despair in a nation divided, this country showed they’re the minority. Although this hurricane has proved the darkest hour for tens of thousands, Americans have shown themselves to be the helpers. Please join me in looking for them.
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Photo credit Texas National Guard